Oprah Winfrey branded ‘a liar’ by Swiss sales assistant in racist handbag row
talkshow billionaire Oprah Winfrey a luxury handbag costing nearly 25,000 claims the superstar lied about what happened in the luxury Swiss boutique where she works.
Speaking anonymously to Sunday newspaper SonntagsBlick, the Italian bag lady said she felt ‘powerless’ and in the grip of a ‘cyclone’ after Winfrey went on TV in America to claim she had been the victim of racism.
Winfrey was in Switzerland in July adidas samba when she walked into the Trois Pommes boutique in Zurich looking for a handbag to match the outfit she was going to wear to old friend Tina Turner’s wedding.
She claims the sales assistant refused to show her the black crocodile leather bag because seeing a black woman she automatically assumed she would not be able to afford it.
Now the saleslady has hit back, stating: ‘I wasn’t sure what I should present to her when she came in on the afternoon of Saturday July 20 so I showed her some bags from the Jennifer Aniston collection.
‘I explained to her the bags came in different sizes and materials, like I always do.
‘She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the 35,000 Swiss franc crocodile leather bag.
‘I simply told her that it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags.
‘It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds. I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag.
The saleslady went on: ‘This is not true. This is ab adidas samba surd. I would never say something like that to a customer. Really never. Good manners and politeness are the Alpha and the Omega in this business.
‘I don’t know why she is making these accusations. She is so powerful and I am just a shop girl.
‘I didn’t hurt anyone. I don’t know why someone as great as her must cannibalize me on TV.
‘If it had all taken place as she claimed, why has she not complained the next day at th adidas samba e wedding of Tina Turner with Trudie Goetz, my boss? She was there also at the Turner wedding as a guest. I don’t understand it.
‘I spoke to Oprah Winfrey in English. My English is okay but not excellent, unfortunately.
‘I didn’t know who she was when she came into the store. That wouldn’t have made any difference if I had.
Miss Winfrey said of the encounter: ‘I could have had the big blow up thing and thrown down the black card and all that stuff. But why do that?’
‘We work really hard to greet all the people who come into the store with the same level of respect and treat them all equally.
‘If someone asks me whether he or she can see an article, I always present these. Because that person is a potential buyer. And my job is to sell it.
‘I’m glad if I can sell an article. It is a reward for me, if I can sell a nice piece. This means that I’m good at my job.’
She has worked in the store for five years, says 50 per cent of the clientele come from abroad and that a bag costing nearly 25,000 is sold ‘only a few times a year.’
Asked what she would say to Oprah now she added: ‘I would apologize and say it was all a misunderstanding. I surely d adidas samba id not intentionally want to insult Ms. Winfrey. I hope this nightmare ends soon.’
Winfrey was in Switzerland to attend the wedding of her friend Tina Turner and Erwin Back (pictured)
Racism can be expressed in many forms. So much so the person expressing it rationalizes the behavior as right or acceptable, it’s driven by their own inherent nature. Feelings, emotions, things they may have heard, experiences none of which are ok.
Because Oprah opened the door and expressed that she felt the behavior she experienced to be something racial. I believe this was a good thing. Perhaps the clerk was unaware of her actions, in order to learn sometimes we must make mistakes. When stuff like this happens. It brings awareness and if people are as responsible and honest as they believe, perhaps they will start to look at their treatment of others. Remember we can do better!!. You have to be the change you want to see in the world and that can’t happen if your head is in the sand. Motivatedon’thate
I think it’s not really about colour, unfortunately the problem was that the saleswoman did not know who Oprah was. I’ve worked in the service industry and when you see someone famous comes in you give them the most and best service, which is a shame! If the Queen had walked in, or someone famous who she KNEW, I’m absolutely POSITIVE she would shown them the bag they requested!!! Oprah color probably triggered it situation sooner! Also the response the saleswoman gave implied that she didn’t want to show the bag. Rule 1 Never tell a customer the price of something, unless they ask!!!
Oprah doesn’t need to claim racism by this shop assistant if it were not true. She’s the most visible and well known African American woman in the world next to President Obama and his wife. But if she was not in her makeup and glam designer clothing, not expecting to be photographed or the public celeb, I’m not sure anyone would recognize her. Seems there is more to this story, but Switzerland is a very high income country, from my experience. If you don’t have lots of money, don’t bother to cross their borders, they are money oriented and very conscious about it.
I’m with Oprah on this one.
I think it awful when people excuse or try to rationalize poor or bad behavior. Face it, something happened or this would not be a discussion. What is extremely concerning is that most of the people commenting are probably all white and would not have clue what racism looks like. Particularly since it not something that would affect you personally or otherwise.
Perhaps this clerk was unaware of her actions as she is probably conditioned to certain thoughts and emotions were as minorities are concerned. I wonder how many other people she’s made feel a similar kind way and they did what Oprah did and just leave the store never to speak of the experience. The caveat being she just happened to offend a smart, intelligent, rational person who happens to be a media mogul. That being said, I am happy Oprah exposed the behavior of the clerk and maybe in the future she will be more aware of her actions and mindful of the her words and actions she chooses. Awareness